The days when Korean cars could be glibly dismissed as cheap and cheerful are long gone. Both Hyundai and Kia, their kissing cousins, are now so close to the mainstream makes that the gap is imperceptible to most people.
Look at the sharp styling of the new i30 – it is as easy on the eye as anything out there and smarter than some. This is Hyundai’s newest player in the fiercely contested segment presently occupied by the Ford Focus, Vauxhall Astra and Volkswagen Golf. Yes, the big names need to look to their laurels.
The good first impression continues when you sit behind the wheel. The i30 is as well presented as the rest. All the dials and buttons look good and are easy to use. This is a quality item even by today’s high standards.There is plenty of space and the boot lives up to that much-used word – generous.
You get a choice of 1.4 petrol or 1.6 turbo diesel engines with power outputs from 99bhp to 126bhp. I drove the 110PS version of the 1.6 turbo-diesel, a reasonable performer with 0-62mph in 11.5 seconds. This should be lively enough for most people.
On the road, the driving experience is relaxed. I found the car to be well behaved and able to cope well with bad surfaces. The emphasis is on comfort rather than performance and the engine is quiet at motorway cruising speeds. What is more, it delivers commendable economy.
My car was one of the Blue Active models fitted with fuel-saving items such as intelligent stop-start and a six-speed manual gearbox. These worked well to make the best of the diesel engine’s efficiency. The combined consumption figure of 76mpg and emissions of 97g/kmare highly impressive. These produced knock-on savings on tax for company drivers.
Buyers are also after reliability and Hyundai’s track record is very good on this front with high scores in the customer satisfaction polls. Their confidence is reflected in the standard five-year warranty that few other makes can match.
The car I drove was well equipped with air conditioning, alloy wheels, remote locking, Bluetooth and a sound system with USB connectivity. Safety features included six air bags and standard ESP stablity control. The are items that buyers are looking for on the modern car.
With all of this kit and the fuel safety features, my test car was competitively priced at £17,995. Other versions of the i30 models start at under £15k for a 1.4 petrol and the list prices undercut the main rivals model for model. Yes, Hyundai has now earned the right to be considered a serious alternative to the top household names.
Hyundai i30 Blue Active 1.6 CRDi
ENGINE – 1.6-litre turbo diesel developing 110PS
PERFORMANCE – Accelerates to 62mph in 11.5 seconds, 115mph top speed
ECONOMY – 76.3mpg Combined
EMISSIONS – 97g/km Carbon Dioxide
INSURANCE (1-50) Group 12E
PRICE – £17,995